What is the most efficient number of people to include in the interview process? You probably don’t need 12 people in the room.

Imagine the excitement of an interview for your dream job. Now imagine entering the interview room and seeing five or more faces starring back at you. Nervous? Nauseous? Terrified? All of the above?

Candidates are already nervous coming into the interview process. A huge group of interviewers adds to the nerves and might make the candidates feel intimidated and they might not perform as well under that perceived scrutiny. While it is a great idea to have a hiring manager and one or two department representatives, inviting the entire 20-person sales or marketing team to the interview process is overkill. Literally.

Each interviewer will have a plethora of opinions on each candidate. It might be virtually impossible to settle on one candidate if everyone has a differing opinion on the ideal candidate. The interview panel needs to be on the same page when it comes to what they are looking for. Prior to the interview, set a specific list of qualifications and qualities the group is looking for in a candidate.

If there are personality differences in the interviewers, these can become an upfront issue during an interview. Figure out what questions the group wants to ask potential hires and predetermine who is asking what. Those personality differences might take a backseat if everyone is checking off the boxes on a list instead of worrying about one-upmanship. 

Ideally the number of interviewers at an interview should not exceed more than three or four. If the candidate can look around the room and make eye contact with each interviewer, it gives a sense of invitation and calm to help reduce those initial nerves. Now you’ll have the opportunity to figure out if the candidate is the right fit or not. 

From the candidate’s viewpoint, a smaller interview panel is a matter of avoiding exhaustion and being overwhelmed. If there are too many people in the interview room, it might seem as though your chances of getting the job decrease because everyone will have his/her own expectations. Who can possibly meet everyone’s idea of “the person who’d be perfect for this job”?

You’ll find the right fit for the position and your team if you provide an environment that is conducive to allowing candidates to feel comfortable enough to answer your questions, check those boxes, and be themselves.